EFF in the News
Despite seeming attempts at privacy improvements, critics say the House version of the bill is in most major respects just as problematic as the Senate version. “You have pretty much non-existent privacy protections, along with new powers to spy on and monitor users…all while being provided broad immunity,” says Mark Jaycox, a legislative analyst with the Electronic Frontier Foundation who has closely followed both House and Senate bills. “It creates a perfect storm for sharing personal information with intelligence agencies.”
“I encrypt my iPhone and I didn’t know it was leaking all that,” Hanni Fakhoury, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Daily Dot when he heard the list.
Mark Jaycox, legislative analyst for digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said it’s important to remember that just as the Internet is only about 26 years old, tools to improve private browsing are relatively new, too.
“This is a usability issue. These tools are just beginning to be developed,” Jaycox said. “This is slow moving, and while a minority are changing their privacy settings now, we find that when you show people how to use tools like encryption, they tend to use them.”
Adi Kamdar, activist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said it would come in an era when online start-ups rely on customer data as assets.
"The EFF is not supporting the bill, but it's one example of how members of congress are trying to fix the surveillance law," Mark Jaycox, legislative analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told El Reg.
All this was an unlikely achievement for a man who personified what the British theorists Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron called “the Californian Ideology.” Barlow wrote songs for the Grateful Dead, tended to his parents’ Wyoming ranch in the waning days of family farms and eventually helped co-found the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights advocacy organization. The trajectory of his life is embodied in the title of Fred Turner’s excellent history of the era, “From Counterculture to Cyberculture,” about how hippie communitarianism found its way into early Web communities like The WELL, a popular message board.
As it turns 25, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is turning to a new leader: veteran digital rights advocate Cindy Cohn.
Cohn is taking the reins of a group that has grown more prominent as Americans' concerns about digital privacy and government surveillance mount. She previously served as the EFF's legal director, leading the charge on EFF cases that tried to rein in the National Security Agency long before government contractor Edward Snowden's revelations about the body's extensive surveillance. The San Francisco nonprofit seeks to promote privacy, free speech and innovation in the digital realm.
Hanni Fakhoury, an attorney with the pro-privacy Electronic Frontier Foundation, said Tuesday's court order was the first time that revealed a nationwide police tactic to maintain secrecy at all costs.
"We've long suspected that's the policy, but now we know," he said. "It's crazy on a billion legal levels."
"It is great to see that Virginia legislators have recognized the threats to privacy posed by longer ALPR retention periods and also recognized that longer retention periods aren’t necessary to serve the main purposes of ALPRs—finding wanted and stolen vehicles," Jennifer Lynch, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Ars by e-mail.
Interestingly, this issue has been pretty much absent from the discussion in recent months. This is curious as many activist groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), protested heavily against the copyright loophole in the past, issuing warnings over massive collateral damage.
“Carving a copyright loophole in net neutrality would leave your lawful activities at the mercy of overbroad copyright filtering schemes, and we already have plenty of experience with copyright enforcers targeting legitimate users by mistake, carelessness, or design,” the EFF wrote at the time.
So why was there little outrage about the copyright loophole this time around? TF contacted EFF staff attorney Kit Walsh who admits that the issue didn’t get much attention, but that it’s certainly problematic.
“The language about ‘lawful’ content and applications creates a serious loophole that seems to leave it up to ISPs to make judgments about what content is lawful or infringes a copyright, subject to challenges after the fact about whether their conduct was ‘reasonable’,” Walsh says.
“It’s one thing to say that ISPs can block subject to a valid court order, quite another to let ISPs make decisions about the lawfulness of content for themselves,” he adds.